The first Thanksgiving occurred in 1621. This practice has continued in the Puritan tradition until today. Thanksgiving is a revered time to be with family and demonstrate thankfulness for all that God has given us. The holiday earned the endorsement from the Continental Congress 150 years after the initial iconic feast. President Abraham Lincoln spoke on October 3, 1863, officially establishing the iconic Thanksgiving holiday in American culture: “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving….” (http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/thanks.htm)
Noteworthy is what the United States was enduring while President Lincoln spoke of being thankful. At the time, the United States was two years into the Civil War. He referred to it as being “of unequaled magnitude and severity,” Moreover, the war was still a year and a half away from its conclusion. Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle, had ended three months prior with significant losses on both sides of the conflict. President Lincoln embraces thankfulness while the American people were grieving the loss of life, living in the future’s uncertainty, and desperate for peace.
Despite the tumultuous times, Lincoln called on the people to give thanks. He said, “I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His [God] tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand…” The giving of thanks as a nation for God’s blessings is distinctly American, yet giving thanks is a universal right and privilege as old as man.
Lincoln was espousing the ideals found within God’s word. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We can all agree that 2020 has been a significant challenge. Yet amidst it all, we have great things for which to be Thankful.
As followers of Christ, we have the opportunity to model gratitude for those in our home, our workplace, our friend groups, and acquaintances. The Christian faith requires discipline. The discipline of embracing God’s sovereignty and the circumstances we find ourselves in is a powerful testimony.
We hope that the Salem Christian School family keeps the Thanksgiving tradition this year by contemplating the many things God has provided. May we take a moment to share what blessings God has given us abundantly.